Thursday, October 30, 2008

Speaking of Michael Flatley

All this chatter about Michael Flatley has made me want to watch some old-school Lord of the Dance. 
Here you go: 















Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Grand Finale for Cloris

Did you know that Monday night's Dancing with the Stars outranked the World Series, 18.9 million to 13.2 million viewers? I guess people wanted to see Cloris Leachman perform one last time.

Sadly, last night Cloris took her final bow, but that doesn't mean she wont' be back. Take a look at Bob Tourtellotte's post for an overview of last night's show and Julianne Hough's expected recovery--she says she'll be dancing with Cody again in two weeks.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Dancing With The Stars Week 6, watching/writing live

Yes, group routine. Oh and no Glen tonight either, Michael Flatley has decided to join us instead. I used to watch a tape of "Lord of the Dance" over and over. I always wanted to be that evil girl in the red dress, she danced to the cooler music. :~)

Oh no, Cherly has her worked cut out for her with Maurice tonight, at least from the video. Okay here comes their waltz. He definitely doesn't have the fluidity, but he looks like he's enjoying himself. Humm...lets see what the judges think. I agree with what Carrie Ann said about their lack of chemistry, they have none. I think Maurice still lacks confidence on stage, he needs to start having fun out there. 

Love seeing Lance in his old studio. I was such a big Nsync fan back in the day. Oh they are good. Happy feet. Fun outfits too. Thank you Lacey for letting Lance show off a little. Oh and he put in that slide move where he fell last time...good for him. I still don't know if he will be able to beat Brooke. 

Susan, I really don't know if you're going to make it much farther than this. Please, oh please put on some personality tonight! Hopefully that outfit puts her in the mood. Yikes, the movement looks way too fast for her. Nope, didn't break out of her shell tonight either. I completely disagree with the judges, she didn't bring any attitude to that piece at all. 

Can I just say that Michael could say anything with that Irish accent, even something horrible, and it would sound delightful.

Poor Brooke, her foot must be pretty painful. Hopefully she can dance through the pain. Rumba time. She can act sexy, that's for sure. Now these two have chemistry. As much as Derek irritates me, he has worked well with Brooke. Yes, I do agree with the judges, she looked a tad off, especially during the turns. Good for Brooke for staying so positive though. WOW and a 10 from Michael! HA! I guess he hasn't watched Brooke dance before to see what she can really do. 

This hip hop routine looks ridiculous on the video. I'm ready for the silliness to begin. 

It's Cloris time, in a bright, sassy, yellow outfit. Vintage cha cha cha. Oh, now that she's moving she looks good, even when its fast movement. OOOO my...a death spin...ha! Wait a go Cloris! And she can't stop laughing. Love her. Oh please Carrie Ann, Toni was nonsense compared to Cloris who at least knows how to put on a show. Many of the people commenting on the Dancing With the Stars live blog agree with Carrie Ann. One irritated viewer said, "This is a DANCING contest, not a popularity content." Actually, 2/3 of dance is performance-based, it's not about technique. So, especially when you are putting a celebrities on the dance floor, 2/3 is a popularity contest. 

Warren has such grace. Unfortunately, he basically walked around the entire routine. 

Awesome hip hop routine ahead. This is where Cloris can bust a move! Ohhh Cloris I love the orange leggings. Poor Susan, she looks so out of it. I'm not sure what that was, but at least it was fun. 

Another week of celebrity dance complete. 

 

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Modern Dance Goes Commercial

The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company has been plastered along the T's trains for months here in Boston. The performers are captured sliding and leaping through the space wearing Puma clothes and shoes. What I thought were new ads are actually part of Puma's "I'm Going" campaign started in 2007. The company has also performed in a television commercial for Puma (see below). But Jones' company is not the only group showcasing dance through advertisements.

Many of you have probably seen Pilobolus Dance Theater's commercials for General Motors, Toyota, Hyundai and Bloomingdale's. But what's interesting about Pilobolus is that it actually has its own creative services unit that focuses on choreographing original works for advertising, film, television and corporate and fund-raising events. The unit was founded in 1997 to support the "growing demand from the commercial world for first-rate movement services." Besides commercials, the company has created live events for corporations such as IBM and Procter & Gamble, performed in a Marilyn Manson music video and has captured movement for books, such as Twisted Yoga. But, is this new trend of modern companies entering advertising campaigns beneficial or detrimental to modern dance as a whole?

On the positive side, these ads attract unlikely audience members to view and even appreciate modern dance. Take my boyfriend, an engineer who works all day analyzing patterns created in a vacuum chamber. After seeing Pilobolus on a commercial, and then on Conan O'Brien's show in June, he's willing to see them perform in November. I didn't even mention they were coming, he found the show. Now even people who's heads are usually filled with numbers are willing to sit for two hours and enjoy a modern dance performance. Amazing.

But will the attraction of new audiences alter the movement created for performances? What you see in commercials are a lot of flexibility and many jumps. People want the "wow factor." And to new dance viewers that comes in the form of leaps and unnaturally flexible performers. But what about those subtle performances with raw emotion and no tricks? Are we going to substitute flexibility and leaps for well-crafted simplicity?

One of the most beautiful pieces I've every seen was a modern piece called "I Am Not My Little Black Dress," the last piece choreographed by the late Ed Tyler. This piece, crafted for my fellow members of the 2007 Virginia Repertory Dance Company, was comprised of simple hand and leg gestures and sustained movement, without the fluff. But it had power and poignance. More power than any leap I've ever seen. I would hate to see that kind of emotion taken away from a choreographer's vocabulary just to please new viewers.

Hopefully there can be a happy medium that transitions newcomers to regulars and integrates these more simple pieces into a repertoire, even possibly in an advertisement. Do you think that's possible?


Bill T. Jones Puma Commercial

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Dance Video: RAPID STILL

The patience some performers and choreographers have when capturing dance on video is outstanding. But Brian Brooks tops them all. He is the choreographer and performer of RAPID Still, and jumped 812 times to create his first dance film. Take a peak.



More Dancing With The Stars + Politics

Last night, DWTS featured campaign ads for each celebrity. I particularly like Cloris Leachman's. Thanks DanceWatcher for showing these videos. 

Monday, October 20, 2008

Dancing with the Presidential and VP Candidates



Thanks Meredith, from The Librarian Next Door, for this photo.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Presidential Candidate's Views on the Arts

While Obama has plans for more arts funding and bringing the arts to inner-city schools, McCain has a record of voting against support for the arts. One example is his support for a bill that would reduce the funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.

Here is a great article with more details. Just visit Womenarts.com.

Thanks Eva YaaAsantewaa from Infinite Body for showcasing this topic.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dancing With The Stars Season 7, Week 2

My thoughts as I watch and chat on the Dancing With The Star's live blog:

Maurice and Cheryl started the night with a sexy samba to some disco. She's my favorite professional, with a big personality, just like her hair this week. As for her partner, I agree with Glen, he needs some refinement in his movements.

Cody stumbled a tad during this one, but gave a solid performance.

Many people online really like Toni. I'm just not convinced. She stumbled a few times during this performance. Also, she looked down and dropped character when she wasn't being sultry.

I commend Cloris for trying hard this week. She looked very sophisticated and young. Her turns were great and extending her leg that high, wow! She's such a delight. Maybe she will be in the competition longer.

Poor Rocco, his movements are just so awkward not matter what he does. But at least this week he was really having fun. Unfortunately, gimmicks like removing clothing won't get you far in this competition. That plus no musicality = gone tomorrow.

I love that Susan got Tony on "All My Children"--hysterical. Unfortunately, her attempt to get Erica Caine into her performance didn't come across through her face at all. But, the rigidness of the tango suited her well. Although, the fast-pace of the music did them a disservice by making their movement appear very slow.

Brooke shook it tonight. I love that song and the characterization throughout. This was the first time I was really impressed with her. Even her face was into it. Wonderful. I can't believe Glen didn't like the story incorporated into the dance. It complemented the music's story, Glen, come on.

Ha...anyone else see Lacey looking ticked off behind Brooke and Derek when they were talking? What an irritated expression. Do I sense some jealousy?

Woo creepy costumes and makeup Lacey and Lance, nice halloween feel. Very sharp and clean. Thank goodness Carrie Ann agrees. Sir Lancelot..wow it's the first time Glen actually liked it. See Lacey, nothing to be jealous about.

Yes, Capoeira...I love that they're showing all these styles on TV. That's one class I didn't get a chance to take at the American College Dance Festival, but I would have loved to try.

Warren...oh have more fun with it. There you go. He looked pretty distracted tonight and not fulling into the piece. I agree with the lack of content in the piece that the judges were disappointed in.

Pretty varied show tonight, with some really fun pieces.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Old Hollywood Dancer

Cyd Charisse had it all. She dance with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, and performed with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. I grew up watching her on TCM and AMC in "Singing In The Rain," "The Harvey Girls," and "Brigadoon," all those great 1940s/1950s musicals.

In "Singing In The Rain," she was only in one number, but she stole the show, portraying a sultry, elusive woman. In that number she performs a modern ballet piece with wind blowing an extremely long, white piece of fabric as she wraps herself into Gene's arms. Stunning.

Charisse died in June of this year at the age of 86, but will be remembered as an old Hollywood musical great, a real triple-threat. The performers of the 21st century musical will never have her sophistication and elegance.

Ms. Charisse's obituary can be found in The New York Times.

Below is her performance in "Singing In The Rain."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Why does ABC need to add more drama to a painful situation?



Why did "Dancing With The Stars" decide to have Misty May hobble onto the stage at the end of the show? We had already heard her Achilles tendon pop, that was enough drama for me. I agree with what Sharon wrote on her blog, Tink's Corner, about the whole situation. I hope Misty makes a fast, smooth recovery.

As for the other performers, it was an "ehhh" kind of show for me. Even Cloris Leachman, throwing out all the stops, wasn't a thrill. As much as I love her, I think it's about time for her to end her stint on the show. But more so than Cloris, the person who needs to leave soon is Rocco DiSpirto. Bye, bye, no more awkward movement from you please.

You would think Susan Lucci, with all her acting skills, would have caught on by now that to fully impersonating a character during a dance performance you have to throw yourself completely into that character, not half-heartily. Her happy persona throughout the jive was fake and juvenile. Come on Susan, you can do better!

Thank goodness for Warren Shapp's elegance, just like Emmet Smith. I would have liked to see those two duke it out on stage.

Lets hope for some more impressive performances next week.

Monday, October 6, 2008

A site specific a little too close for comfort?

So, I'm all about breaking the boundaries of the proscenium arch, performers interacting with the audience and pushing comfort levels. But, performing in your bathroom?

Dark Horse/Black Forest, by Yanira Castro + Company is a piece that comes straight to your home bathroom upon request. Performed previously in Romania, this piece is a work in progress that is scheduled for release in the United States in 2009.

Listen to Castro speak with NYC dance writer Eva Yaa Asantewaa on her blog InfiniteBody to learn more about pushing the boundaries of audience interaction.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Hunt For Sound Without Concerns of Money


Finding the perfect sound combination that has the lulls and crescendos and doesn't repeat too much is always a difficult task. I used to hunt for hours on iTunes trying to find that perfect sound clip, but would often pay for the rest of the song and be disappointed because it wouldn't fit my choreographic concept. Luckily, there are some great music download sites that don't require payment, only recognition of the artist.

I learned about www.incompetech.com during a computers in communication class. It is used by movie and advertising producers to complement their work. And it's all free, although donations are optional. So I thought, this would be a great resource for dancers, especially students. 

Kevin MacLeod writes all the music on the site, unless otherwise noted. You can search various styles of music by genre or emotion, which is a wonderful tool considering many dances are conceived based on an emotion. The pieces vary in length from 30 seconds to 10 minutes and they can be downloaded via iTunes. If you can't find what you're looking for from Kevin's selection, try some of his friends' sites: http://www.jimmyg.us/ and http://www.jmtr.com/jmtr-royalty-free.html